New leadership arrived at the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation this past November with the hire of Mason Ayres, previously executive director of the NCH Healthcare Foundation in Naples. “I look forward to immersing myself in the hospital system,” Ayres says. “We are blessed here in Sarasota to have such a strong hospital system, and the community is incredibly philanthropic.” SRQ spoke with Ayres about the other important elements that keep his own mental health strong.

Ron Heuer

Early on, Ron opened some doors for me in my career. He was the head of the travel industry organization I joined out of college. I followed him when I was in Orlando up to a position in Boston, where I was able to run a marketing department for him, and subsequently joined him again when I moved back to Orlando to work at Universal Studios. He always believed in me and gave me opportunities to grow.

Camp Virginia

When I was growing up, I would go almost every summer to this camp for six weeks each year. I started when I was 10, and during college I came back and was a counselor. As I moved from being a camper to a counselor and took on the responsibility of taking care of kids for three to six weeks, it taught me a lot about being a role model. The really cool thing is that my two oldest boys were able to go to that camp, and lots of traditions I was exposed to at their age were still happening.

Winnie Tripping

When I was growing up, my parents took us camping a lot. We started when I was really young in a tent, and then we progressed to a VW camper, then a trailer and then we upgraded finally to the RV. Living in Virginia, we would always find time to take the Winnebago on trips. We would go to Florida and experience a great beach vacation.

Seeing The USA

As far as our family is concerned today, we definitely enjoy doing vacations and sharing those memories. It’s something I want to do with my kids because we did it when I was growing up. A couple years ago, we went to California and did the San Francisco to Los Angeles trip. I exposed my kids to the culture in both cities. We’ve also gone to Boston and New York; we went skiing in Jackson Hole. Not only do you experience things together with your kids, but you also have great stories you share for years to come.

Presidential Blade

My grandfather, for the Bicentennial, got a replica of George Washington’s sword. Growing up and visiting them, the sword was kept on a plaque down in their basement. My cousins and I would get together and look at it—and maybe took it off the plaque once or twice. When he passed away, I ended up with the sword and it’s hanging at my house now.

Friday Night Lights

As a lot of people do, I watch series on Netflix. The one I’ve enjoyed watching is Friday Night Lights. It combines sports and life; I grew up playing competitively, so that kind of connects with me, but I also like the show particularly because of the good family values wrapped up in it.

Soccer Star

It was the sport that I played growing up. When I was 13, I had the chance to go to Germany with a youth soccer program for two weeks. We played against other kids our age, which was pretty humbling. It was a great chance to see another country, spend time with friends in school and see different parts of Germany.

Al Fresco Sunsets

What I enjoy probably the most is a casual restaurant meal on the beach. I went to high school in Daytona Beach, and I enjoy that feel. It’s soothing and calm, very relaxing. As a child, we spent time at family gatherings on Virginia Beach, so it’s something I’ve always connected with. I like the more relaxed atmosphere. I’m actually looking forward to experiencing that here in Sarasota.

Unbroken, by Laura Killenbrand 

I love Unbroken—it’s a great book. Reading about someone who had overcome a lot of obstacles in life, who persevered in challenges is a great inspiration.